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Welcome Praveen Agrawal, New Expert in the Digital Utility Community- [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Expert Interview]

Posted to Energy Central in the Digital Utility Group
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Matt Chester's picture
Energy Analyst Chester Energy and Policy

Official Energy Central Community Manager of Generation and Energy Management Networks. Matt is an energy analyst in Orlando FL (by way of Washington DC) working as an independent energy...

  • Member since 2018
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  • Nov 29, 2022
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Utilities have truly grown and evolved over the decades. Whereas early on, electricity was the only real commodity, these days the digitalization of the power sector has made the associated data just as valuable and critical to utility leaders. That data isn’t just tracking the electricity, but also key aspects like asset management, operation and maintenance schedules, workforce resources, and more.

Tracking what utility leaders need to make good decisions and proper investments is a full-time job, which is why there are so many stakeholders and experts involved who are outside the power companies themselves but are bringing their expertise as industry leaders. One such company tracking the important developments for utility leaders is Wipro, and one of Wipro’s leading experts is Praveen Agrawal, Consulting Partner. The work Praveen and his teams at Wipro have been doing for utility partners has led to countless important lessons learned that the sector as a whole would benefit from, which is why Praveen’s recent elevation to Energy Central’s Network of Experts is so timely. Praveen is joining as a resident expert in the Digital Utility Group on Energy Central.

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To start that process, as we do with all of our new experts, we welcome Praveen to our Energy Central Power Perspectives Welcome Your New Expert interview series.

Matt Chester: Praveen, we’re very excited to welcome you to our Network of Experts. We always kick this process off with an interview so our community knows what they can expect you to bring as an expert, so let’s start with the basics. What is your role in the world of energy and how did you find yourself there?

Praveen Agrawal: I lead Wipro’s Work and Asset Management practice for the Utilities domain, where we help our utilities clients effectively manage their utility networks through efficient usage of their assets and field-force. I have been part of utilities asset management and researching this subject area for more than 2 decades.

My primary focus area has been…package implementations and domain consulting. I primarily focus on work management, asset management, workforce management, mobile workforce management, asset performance management, asset investment planning, portfolio management, and digital twins.

 

MC: What is the importance of asset management in utilities and can you share some of the key tools or strategies that you think utilities aren’t fully taking advantage of today?

PA: Utility companies primarily manage two aspects: customers and assets. Everything in a utility revolves around these two. Since utilities provide essential services, maintaining their asset infrastructure is very important. Outages and downtime may impact customer satisfaction, so keeping the asset network up and running all the time is very important.

Utilities should also look for a robust workforce management tool which is integrated with work and asset management to manage their field force. Especially in the distribution of utilities, there are thousands of people working in the field and so assigning the right person to the right job with the right skill at the right time is very important.

 

MC: For a utility that is engaging in digital transformation, what advice do you have for them on how to best do that? How should they think of partners like Wipro and what should their attitude be when undertaking such an effort?

PA: A little background before I answer this question: Most utilities are regulated, as they provide essential services. Any technological disruption, if not managed well, could have a significant negative impact. Hence, utilities must consider a variety of factors before they embrace any new transformative technology implementations.

But at the same time, we also know utilities are pioneers in going digital with their workforce transformation programs. This whole mobility piece — having the mobile devices for the field force or the field technicians — was driven by utility companies.

Digital transformation is about the end-to-end experience of a connected utility. It means transforming the complete value chain of a utility to make all the interactions digital. Digital transformation means a completely different way of doing business, with a different experience. For utilities, this could mean a field technician completing a field inspection report using WhatsApp rather than filling in data on bulky screens on a mobile device. This could mean complete automation of the utility’s dispatch centers, making them unmanned.

Therefore, digital is not about embracing a particular technology or a technology stack. Digital is not about process automation. Digital is about having an experience beyond the technologies by adopting a strategic design enabled by artificial intelligence.

Wipro is a leader in the digital transformation for utilities. We have successfully delivered and brought continuous leap-frogging in best practices adoptions through our digital and technology innovations in utilities EAM business transformation programs. At Wipro, we have taken a three-dimensional approach to designing transformation programs for our clients. At the heart of our programs, we put people first, to ensure that the transformation meets their expectations. This is then followed by focus on processes and technology.

 

MC: What new technologies do you think will emerge as being the most important for utilities in the coming years?

PA: While utilities have already implemented asset management applications, there’s still a lot to achieve in terms of [the] latest technological innovations, like advanced analytics, predictive and prescriptive maintenance. Utilities should be, and will be, focusing on predictive analytics; digital twins; collaboration among EAM, BIM and GIS; field mobility to effectively manage their assets and utilize their workforce efficiently.

Field technicians especially will see critical software tools and technologies become available to them. Also workforce management, which is about work scheduling and dispatching, is still pretty much managed manually. We will see productivity improvements there via new technologies.

 

MC: Why did you feel compelled to get more involved in the Energy Central Community? And what value do you hope to bring to your peers on the platform?  

PA: In any industry, reaching out to people, customers, experts, peers, is important for any practitioners like me to learn collaboratively from each other and share best practices. Technology is changing very fast, and there is so much to learn and unlearn. A community or platform like Energy Central provides that opportunity to collaborate for all of us working in this area.

Being involved with Energy Central allows us to connect with a concentrated community of practitioners [who are] working towards similar goals, and creating opportunity to learn from each other and share insights. Then on the personal side, I appreciate that Energy Central allows me to network a little bit more, connect with the experts in this area worldwide and gain better visibility throughout the industry.

 

MC: What’s the final message you’d like to add for our Community Members getting to know you today?    

PA: I am an avid blogger, and I firmly believe that every idea, every thought, every opinion is correct. Brainstorming on such thoughts can provide us intelligent, useful solutions for the clients we work with.

 

________________________________________

Thanks to Praveen Agarwal for joining me for this interview and for providing a wealth of insights and expertise to the Energy Central Community. You can trust that Praveen will be available for you to reach out and connect, ask questions, and more as an Energy Central member, so be sure to make him feel welcome when you see her across the platform.

The other expert interviews that we’ve completed in this series can be read here, and if you are interested in becoming an expert, you can reach out to me or you can apply here.

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Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Nov 29, 2022

Welcome to our experts network - I look forward to seeing you in the community!

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